FDA Authorizes Updated COVID Booster Shots

Photo: Time

The Facts

  • On Wed., the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a COVID booster shot targeting the Omicron subvariants in anticipation of a surge of COVID cases in the fall and winter.

  • The booster doses are intended to prevent severe illness and death from the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, and could be available as soon as this Labor Day weekend, pending CDC approval.

The Spin

Narrative A

Overall there's reason to be hopeful. The number of new COVID cases and deaths has been falling nearly everywhere in the world. However, this fall and winter in the Northern Hemisphere could see another spike in hospitalizations and deaths, so the roll-out of an Omicron-specific booster is the perfect timing in this ongoing battle against the virus.

Narrative B

There are a lot of questions here. Without long-term human trials, it's unclear if these new boosters will be widely accepted by the public. In addition, it's uncertain if they will be any more effective than the original formula, which is still highly efficient at preventing severe illness and death. The public should also be educated that the new formula will not reduce the number of total infections - we may need to proceed with caution and limit our expectations.

Nerd narrative

There's a 50% chance that there will be at least 1.14 million confirmed COVID deaths in the US by the end of 2022, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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